On the advice of a car dealer/racer friend I purchased my Speed3 after first test driving the GTI, WRX sti, Mini S, Lancer RalleyArt and Cobalt SS. This car made me say "Holy cr@p!" more than any of the others. The Speed3 was an upgrade from my 2005 Pontiac GTO which was incredibly fast, but lacked cornering, braking, space, utility, and was extremely expensive to own. The Mazda is a much more complete performance car. After 36,000 miles it's still capable of shocking the bejeezus out of me with its acceleration, cornering, and braking. I've had no quality issues, rattles, squeaks. etc. We take this car on long trips instead of my wife's Maxima because it's more comfortable. I love this car!
Acceleration, handling, brakes, interior materials, audio system. I'm very happy I chose a new '09 instead the 2010's which were also available. The '09 is more than 200 lbs. lighter, it has a more attractive interior, and it lacks the boy racer hood scoop and "smiley face" grill. It's amazing how much stuff will fit in this car with the rear seats down. With them up my 6'2" brother has been comfortable on 250 mile drives.
It could use an additional power port and it would be nice to have the "aux" jack on the front of the audio panel instead of inside the console.
Possibly the "best" car, for the money, I've ever had!
(Except for dealership experience--see my review, no, see ALL the Edmunds reviews of the AutoTown [violative content deleted])
I previously had an '02 Z06, and while it was more HPDE capable, the 'speed3 is more enjoyable at all "public streets" speeds, and twice the value/dollar as the 'vette (assuming you don't need the "Corvette ego massage.")
I've enjoyed a "decadent 2nd childhood" the last 20 yrs--including 2 M3s, 3 SVT Cobras (2 "R"s), and a few '60s muscle cars--and the 'speed3 is a balanced highlight, overall.
I'm waiting 'til the warranty's used up before I try any mods (that could be used as an excuse to void my warranty); 2013 s/be fun.
1 - Very well-balanced (for FWD) in stock form.
2 - VERY comfortable for up to 3 hrs between breaks, on trips.
3 - Mazda's philosophy of making "almost everything" standard equipment on Mazdaspeed models; I chose the "Grand Touring" version due to the extensive "standard equip." list.
OTOH, I wouldn't have got the "techno" pkg, but the best 09 'speed3 left in this market ('10s were already out) was dealer-ordered that way.
4 - Almost invisible to (or ignored by) L/Os...at least, in white, with stock exhaust (and maybe my grey hair?).
1- REAL limited-slip (rather than "electronic brake compensation")-->"4" in performance.
2a - taller first gear ratio (i'm tired of "3000 rpm & a shift" before I finish crossing an intersection)...or
2b) even better, offer a "hi-po" A/T (like VW did in the '08 R32, eh?).
3 - Make the dang tire pressure sensors WORK...or at least make 'em diagnosible as to which individual one is malf'ing-->"4" in reliability.
4 - Upgrade the Nav. system controls--they're SLOW.
(I can enter an address into my cellphone map app & have better route info, INCLUDING current traffic conditions, in "half" the time.
I spent over a year researching cars to buy when I finally got a job after college and I finally decided on the Mazdaspeed 3.
I lucked out and found a Grand Touring model with the windows already tinted and it only had about 5K miles on it.
I LOVE this car!!
By far the best bang for your buck when it comes to performance cars.
I am an aggressive driver and this car handles and BRAKES on a dime!
The only problem I have ever had is the pistons have misfired a few times due to bad gasoline.
Currently at about 34K miles and going strong!
I also highly recommend getting the Test Pipe from StreetUnit.com, it's awesome and gives you a 20 HP boost for only $160!!
Turbo, 6 speed transmission, body styling, hp, torque
Bought it new in 2009 and I was in love with it. 1200 miles later, my turbo start failing during acceleration. Take it in, I'm told Mazda knows about it but there's no fix. Take it in a second time, they basically ignore me. There are tons of rattles and squeaks that start to develop, though most will go away if you squirt some WD40 on it or shove some foam somewhere to create pressure to stop the rattling (like the steering column).
It's still a fun car and definitely worth the money. There are some things that I do love about it, but I'm going to move on since this car isn't exactly great for stop and go traffic that I'm typically stuck in. (Didn't have a commute when I bought it.)
Turbo (when it works), exhaust tune, steering and handling, responsive brakes, easy gearing and shifting, excellent feel in sharp corners (just be sure to turn off the traction control or it gets weird), fairly decent gas mileage.
Forgiving engine in the odd times you don't pay attention to what gear you're in starting from a dead stop. I've probably only stalled half a dozen times in the two years I've had it. The transmission is smooth (though rare times it feels like the gears aren't quite synced but remedies itself by the next start of the engine).
Have an intermittent wiper mode. There's the auto-wipers but living in Seattle, I don't need my windshield wipers to go superhyperomgsofast when it's only misting outside. I hate not being able to control the speed. And if you leave them in auto mode and ice developed on your windshield overnight? Say goodbye to those wiper blades as they glaze over your windshield.
Also something to reduce the torque when there's snow and ice would be nice. Or move power to the wheel that's gripping or something. Even with studless snow tires, I've lost traction way too many times doing almost nothing.
And uh, fix the turbo issue?
I had a 2007 Honda Civic SI 4dr which was my "dream car" before this MS3. I put 90K miles on it in 2 years and needed another inexpensive "fun to drive" sales rep commuter vehicle. I had owned a 2003.5 Mazda Speed Protege so the MS3 was my next logical choice. This car performs "way beyond my wildest expectations". While in stock form, the SI actually corners harder, the motor in the MS3 is amazing!! Another surprise, if you shift the MS3 at 3000 RPM's or below you can achieve 30MPG! I find this truly amazing!! 280 Ft Lbs of torque and still better Hwy mileage than a Honda Civic SI! The build quality is exceptional and I just did the 30K service and a set of tires! That's it, ZERO defects!